BELMONT SHORES, Calif., Feb. 23. NO Mercy!
That's exactly what Santa Ana's Foothill Knights, double-defending CIF Division 1 girls water polo champs, showed top-ranked and top-seeded Rancho
Santa Margarita in the championship finale here this evening at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
Taking no prisoners, Foothill (27-2) romped to an 8-0 victory over Santa Magarita (26-4) and won its unprecedented third-consecutive CIF DI title. The Knights also proved to any doubters just who really really is No. 1.
"We were pumped to go out and play," said Foothill junior Brittany Hayes. "There was definitely a different feeling going into this game."
Foothill lost its top ranking to Santa Margarita just 21 days earlier with a 7-6 defeat by the Eagles in the semi finals of the Southern California Invitational Tournament.
But the Knights were not to be thwarted this night.
"It's so surreal," said Foothill's Gabbie Domanic, who scored a goal and drew a four-meter penalty. "We were unstoppable."
Taking a leaf from the New England Patriots, Foothill eschewed individual introductions in favor of a group intro, i.e., "Foothill's girls' water polo team."
"To win this game we had to do it as a team so Katie (Card) and Breana Allison came up with the idea of a group introduction," explained Knight co-coach Dan Klatt. Card ended up with scoring a team-high three goals, including a pair in the man-advantage.
Santa Margarita, which started one national junior team member and four youth national team members, appeared tentative early on. The Eagles, normally a quick-starting team, didn't fire their first shot at Knight goalie Emily Fisher until Aimee Stachowski's attempt with 1:53 remaining in the first period.
After three quarters the Eagles had only six shots attempted and a whopping 18 turnovers in 30 possessions before the startes were lifted with 2:46
Fisher had four saves, including two against the man-advantage. Santa Margarita coach Scott Taylor said there had been "too many distractions," referring not so obliquely to the fact that some of his players were apparently more concerned about rushing to their formal winter dance following the game than focusing on winning a championship.
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In Division II, Santa Barbara won its fourth title in the last five seasons with a strong defensive effort that carried them to a 9-1 championship victory over Ventura.
Lauren Boreta had six goals for the champs (25-6). Ventura finished 24-6.
In Division III, top-seeded Bell Gardens (33-1) romped to an easy 16-9 win over North Hoillywood Harvard-Westlake (20-8), which also lost in the boys' finals last fall.
The B-G Lancers thus won their record fourth-straight DIII title with the last three coming against H-W's Wolverines.
Bell Gardens' Jenny Rueda, Viviana Morales and Patty Cardenas combined for 12 of the Lancers' 16 goals, while goalie Alex Lopez stopped 12 Wolverine shots.
Bell Gardens was in command at halftime, 11-3.
Division IV saw Corona del Mar win its first girls' championship with an 11-6 victory over El Doroado. CDM has won the last two boys' Division II
championships and was considered the top prep team in the country last fall.
Today CDM, coached by first-year headman Aaron Chaney, parlayed a pressing defense and a late-arriving 2-meter offense to the title.
The Sea Kings (25-7), who never trailed their unseeded foe, held El Doroado's Golden Hawks(16-14) scoreless for 15:38 in a stretch that started early in the first period.
"We jsut came out trying to press hard," said Sea King junior Danielle Carlson. "We gave a lot of effort on defense."
In Division V, it was an intra-city battle between two Riverside schools, Riverside Arliington (24-7) and Riverside North (22-7).
In the end it was Jennifer D'Anna's four goals that led top-sseded Arlington to an 8-5 victory and the championship.
Arlington won its second-consecutive title, both against Ivy League rival North.
– Bill Bell